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Jury finds men guilty in Luxor bombing case

Updated Friday, Aug. 28, 2009 | 3:21 p.m.

Omar Rueda-Denvers and Porfirio "Pilo" Duarte-Herrera were found guilty of first-degree murder this afternoon in a 2007 Luxor parking garage bombing that left a man dead.

Both men had pleaded not guilty. Although they were tried together, jurors reached independent verdicts on each man's guilt.

Jurors deliberated several hours Thursday and resumed deliberations at 9:30 a.m. today. The verdict was reached at about 11:30 a.m. and was read about an hour later.

Each man was charged with first-degree murder with a deadly weapon, attempted murder with use of a deadly weapon, two counts of possession of explosive or incendiary device and transportation or receipt of explosives for unlawful purpose with substantial bodily harm. Each was found guilty on all charges.

Rueda-Denvers hung his head while listening to the verdicts but neither man spoke after hearing the jury's decision.

The trial now goes into the penalty phase, when the jury will decide if the two men will receive the death penalty. Testimony for this phase was expected to begin Friday afternoon, but was postponed until Monday morning at the request of Duarte-Herrera’s lawyer, who said he needed to make sure his client understood the proceedings.

Prosecutors had said that Rueda-Denvers wanted revenge on his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend and that his friend, Duarte-Herrera, built the pipe bomb the men placed on the car of 24-year-old Willebaldo Dorantes Antonio.

The explosion shredded Dorantes Antonio's right hand and he died after a piece of metal lodged in his head. The bomb had been hidden in a 24-ounce Styrofoam coffee cup and had a motion-activated trigger.

Dorantes Antonio's girlfriend, Caren Chali, was standing near the car at the time of the explosion but wasn't injured in the blast.

Moments before the explosion at about 4 a.m., the couple was seen on security cameras walking arm-in-arm from the Luxor, where they worked at Nathan's Famous, a hot dog stand.

In closing arguments Thursday, Deputy District Attorney Nell Keenan said the men committed the crimes together.

"It was the combination of Omar's obsession and hatred with Pilo's brilliant bomb-making ability," she said.

Duarte-Herrera's attorney Clark Patrick said his client didn't know the victim or the victim's girlfriend and didn't have a motive in the crime.

"Pilo had no reason to want them dead," he said in his closing statement. "Mr. Denvers is the one who knew these two people."

Rueda-Denvers' attorneys had contended throughout the trial that although he had been with Duarte-Herrera on the night of the explosion, he had no knowledge of the bomb or of his friend's intentions.

During four days of testimony, jurors heard from 13 prosecution witnesses and two defense witnesses, but neither defendant testified.

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